About Jesus Steve Sweetman
and Ephraim (ch. 48:1 - 22)
In verses 1 and 2 we note
that Jacob was now very ill so Joseph took his two sons, Manasseh and
Ephraim to visit Jacob. Jacob
was so sick that he could hardly sit up in bed.
In verse 3 Jacob says
that God Almighty appeared to him. "God
Almighty" is "El Shaddai" which most scholars see as
"the all-powerful one who looks after His people". The
earliest meaning to "Shaddai" seems to be "the mountain
one". This suggests
strength. Yet many scholars
say the word means "breasted one".
Whether the word came to be understood as "breasted
one" or it was that in the beginning has been debated.
Still, the present meaning suggests a combination of both.
That is, "the almighty breasted one who looks after His
In verses 3 and 4 Jacob
reminds Joseph what God reminded him of years ago, which was, the
promises made to Abraham in what we call the 'Abrahamic Covenant".
The specific promises that Jacob sights here are;
The idea of
We note that in verse 5
Jacob actually adopts Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and
Ephraim. He says that they
will be just as Rueben and Simeon are.
Rueben and Simeon are Jacob's first born sons from Leah.
This adoption is
important to know and understand. Throughout
the Bible we always see the term "the twelve tribes of Israel".
tribes are Jacob's twelve sons. But,
we have a problem here. Jacob
now adopts two sons, giving him fourteen sons.
So what is going on here? In
the future the tribe of Simeon becomes part of the tribe of Judah. Also the tribe of Levi
becomes priests and is incorporated into all the other tribes.
Thus, two of the fourteen tribes drop off the list of fourteen,
leaving twelve. There are
some listing of these tribes that don't include Joseph because Joseph is
seen in Manasseh and Ephraim. This
list include Simeon, keeping the number at twelve.
We might note at this
point the list of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7 don't include the
tribe of Dan. Many scholars have said over the years that the
anti-christ actually comes out of the tribe of Dan. The tribe of Dan was
the first tribe to introduce cult worship in Israel.
Another thing we might
want to note is that there are many listings of the twelve tribes of
I'd like to point out the
word "adopt". Ephraim
and Manasseh were not full fledged Jews.
Joseph's wife was an Egyptian, a Gentile.
So here we have one of the patriarchs of
In verse 6 Jacob says
that if Joseph has any more children, they will be his, but will be
considered under the lineage of Manasseh and Ephraim.
Notice Jacob mentions the distribution of land to the twelve
tribes. There was such a
distribution that took place later on in history when Israel
was rising to the top of its existence in Joshua's day.
Yet, this might also have future prophetic significance, meaning,
when Jesus hands the land over to Israel at the end of this age, the
land might well be divided at that time as well, as I presently believe
it will be.
In verses 7 and 8 Jacob
reminds Joseph of the time when Rachel.
Rachel was his second wife, the one he loved most.
Since she died while traveling Jacob buried her in
In verse 9 Joseph says to
Jacob that Manasseh and Ephraim are the sons God gave him while in
From verses 9 through 16
we see Jacob blessing Joseph's two sons as well as Jacob blessing
Joseph. This is
the picture in a nutshell. Joseph
places the two boys before his father Jacob.
Jacob should have reached out his right hand to bless the oldest
son. That's known as the
"blessing of the first born".
This was the tradition of
Jacob reached out his
right hand to bless Ephraim, the younger, and his left hand was extended
towards Manasseh, the oldest. It
should have been the other way around.
Jacob was actually giving the blessing of the first born to the
second born. Joseph thought
that his father was making a mistake because of his bad eye-sight, but
it was no mistake. Jacob
meant it to be this way and Joseph was quite upset.
In verse 11 you can see
how appreciative Jacob is. He
says that he never expected to see Joseph's face again, but God has not
only allowed him to see Joseph's face but two of Joseph's son's faces as
well. Jacob was an old man
who was once resigned to depression, but God had revived his spirit at
the end of his life, and you can certainly tell how thankful he was for
that. How thankful will we be when we get old?
Verse 12 tells us that
Joseph removed his two sons from Jacob's knees.
There are a couple of things to note here.
One thing is the age of the boys.
The text seems to suggest that the boys are young because Joseph
removed them from Jacob's knees, but most scholars say that can't be so
if you do the math. These
two boys might well be in their late teens.
The question is then asked, "what were the boys doing on
Jacob's knees?" There
might be an answer. In some
cultures back then there was a ceremony when a man adopted children. He
would place them between his legs or knees.
This was symbolic of the children coming from his own body.
This might well be what was happening here.
The blessings from Jacob
begin in verse 15. When we
see blessings from the patriarchs in the Bible, they are inspired and
can normally be taken as prophetic.
This is one rule of Bible prophecy.
So what Jacob is about to say is important, not just for those he
is speaking to but for prophetic reasons as well.
Verse 15 speaks of the
God who Jacob serves. He is
"Elohim", the God of his father Isaac, and his father Abraham.
He has been Jacob's Shepherd all of his life.
Jacob is recognizing the importance that God has been in his
life, right up unto that very day. That
being said, Jacob was human, and he did not always serve his God in the
way God would want to be served, but that is the
way with us all. We
really can't blame Jacob too much for his humanity.
Yet, here at the end of his life, He IS acknowledging his God as
In verse 16 Jacob
acknowledges "the Angel who has delivered him from all harm."
You will note that the NIV capitalizes the word
"Angel". I assume
they do this because they believe this "Angel" to be
pre-incarnate Jesus. Most
scholars do believe this. When
you see the term "angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament,
that usually refers to the pre-incarnate Jesus.
There's not too much debate on this point.
Although this text does not use the term "angel of the
Lord", the context seems to suggest that this angel is the
"angel of the Lord", meaning, pre-incarnate Jesus, thus the
capital on the word "Angel".
Jacob's prayer is that
this "Angel", that's Jesus, would bless both Manasseh and
Ephraim. I am sure that God
answered this prayer, and I believe history has, and will bear this out.
Jacob goes on to say,
"may they, that is, the boys, be called by both his name and the
name of his father Isaac and his father Abraham.
There's no debate there. This
is, and was clearly the case.
The last phrase in verse
16 says, "may they increase in numberů"
This is a confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant that has been
confirmed many times in the book of Genesis since it was first spoken to
Abraham in Genesis 12. The
Abrahamic Covenant is referred to throughout the Old Testament. That
tells us how important it is. God
confirmed His covenant to Israel
many times in the Old Testament. It
was an eternal covenant. God
has never, or will never change His mind concerning what He promised
Abraham, even though many Bible teachers say He has done just that.
This covenant was an eternal covenant.
It will last forever as the Bible clearly states.
We see in verses 17 and
18 where Jacob places his right hand on Ephraim's head.
The right hand was used for the blessing of the first born.
Joseph took Jacob's hand from Ephraim and placed it on Manasseh
since he was the first born. He
thought for sure that Jacob made a mistake, and he was quite upset about
it. Jacob mane no mistake.
This was a prophetic event. God
had His hand in this. Only
God, as He has done before, can go against the traditions that He
Himself has actually instituted. We
have seen time and time again how God does the unexpected.
He is not always traditional in what He does.
We do have to see this
whole event as being from God. It's
not simply Jacob's desire here. As
in all the blessings we've seen by the fathers of
In verse 19 Jacob, in no
uncertain words, tells Joseph that this is no mistake.
Yes, Manasseh will be great, but Ephraim will be even greater.
We often see Ephraim's name in the Old Testament as a substitute
for the name of Israel. That is,
on many occasions is called Ephraim. Israel
is never called Manasseh.
The last phrase in verse
19 says that Ephraim will become "a group of nations'.
This did come true when
Verse 20 continues the
blessing. Jacob says,
"in your name will Israel pronounce this blessing; May God make you like Ephraim and
Manasseh." I am
not really sure at this point what this means.
When the text says, "in your name", does that mean
Joseph's name. And when the
text refers to
The blessing goes on to
say, "may God make you like
Manasseh and Ephraim. If the
one needing to be like the two sons is Joseph, I can see how that would
be. These two sons became
more important in some respects than Joseph.
Their names are listed in the twelve tribes of
In verse 21 Jacob states
that he is about ready to die. He
then says to Joseph, "God will take you back to the
Verse 22 closes this
chapter with yet another prophecy to Joseph.